Sometimes You Just Need To Go Through Some Shit...| Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Amanda is a special person to me. Over the years we’ve bonded through our mutual love of lingerie and she’s probably just as obsessed with vintage clothes as I am, always scoping out the best deals in the coolest places.

I’ve photographed her a few times but never really feel like I truly capture her raw essence. It remains elusive but someday I’ll get it! Either way, the images always turn out gorgeous so I must be doing something right.

One thing I really love about working with Amanda is that she trusts and encourages me to create whatever I want with her as the subject. Last year she wore only a veil in the sunlight and the year before that she was one of my first boudoir clients. This time around we went with this awesome brightly dyed vintage girdle set with a sheer tulle skirt on the top (because why the hell not) and then her own Lonely lingerie set paired with one of my kimonos. Perfection!

When I asked her to do a write up for me I knew I was going to get a story because I had seen, through social media and photographing her, the weight changes throughout the years but I had no idea the personal struggle that went behind it and how far back it went. I feel like a lot of us can see ourselves in this story and relate to temporarily losing our way when it comes to relationships and the struggle to stay true to ourselves above all else.

And without further ado, Amanda’s words-

“When asked to write about my journey through weight loss, body image, and self love, I chuckled to myself and thought, “Shit, where do I begin?” I honestly can’t remember the first time I felt ashamed of my body but if I had to guess, I’d say about 8 years old. That in itself is troubling to say the least. I knew that I was bigger than most of my classmates but it honestly never bothered me until the teasing started. Looking back it’s clear how the downward spiral of self criticism began: we usually are comfortable until someone else makes us question our image and self worth.

Creating an identity and having a sense of style was a struggle for many, many years, which I can laugh about now. In fifth grade my favorite shirt was a thin cotton tie dye poncho that I wore constantly. I was a “tom boy” for years and remember refusing to wear a bra to the point where my mother would check me before I left for school. I was an early bloomer and just wasn’t having it. Floppy boobs or bust, baby. Puberty was just a vapid ole bitch in general. I was terrified of shaving and had hairy armpits for a while until one of my friends moms said something to me.

My parents were always very gentle about the way they handled concerns about me, which I will always appreciate. Around the end of elementary school they started taking me to a dietitian. I knew that they were just trying to help me but I was so embarrassed whenever we went to the clinic and prayed that we wouldn’t run into anyone that we knew. I never even told any of my friends about it and eventually buried it so far in my memories that it didn't resurface until a few years ago. Toward the end of middle school depression set in and I’ve never felt so alone in my entire life. I tried explaining my feelings to my friends and they just didn’t understand why I was sad.

At my largest I was a size 18/20, weighted 230lbs, and was incredibly depressed. I became convinced that I would probably have heart problems, develop diabetes, and would never find love if something didn't change. I started working out at a small fitness center and felt good about my path until a friends dad approached me one day and offered his advice on building muscle vs. burning fat. I’m sure he meant well but again, the stomach cramp of embarrassment set in and my workouts became less frequent because of it. I struggled with yo-yo dieting into my college years until I eventually managed to maintain 160lbs. In 2013 I contracted a parasitic infection called, cryptosporidium, which was part of an outbreak in the Midwest linked to contaminated lettuce. I lost about 15 or 20lbs in two weeks and it was the sickest I’ve been in my entire life. My diet changed quite a bit after that and I became more active in attempts to slowly heal myself.

Just as I was starting to feel healthy and got accustomed to a smaller self, I met a guy. At first I thought his sense of humor was just strange and that teasing was his shtick, but as the words became more hurtful and specific to me, my arms, my belly, my stretch marks, my legs…the voice of denial faded and the truth set in. “You can just get plastic surgery to fix that.” “You shouldn’t wear shorts. You just don’t have the legs for it.” His words cut me deeper than any childhood dickweed. When things finally ended I fell into a deep depression of guilt, constantly asking myself how I had let that happen to me. Why didn’t I leave early on? Why didn’t I stand up for myself? The answer is fear and it is a powerful motivator.

I desperately needed to regain my independence and sense of empowerment. I caught wind that Massive Attack would be playing a festival in San Francisco so I bought myself a ticket and went on a weekend trip by myself. My family thought I was crazy but it was one of the best things I ever could’ve done for myself. I felt like a new person when I got home and decided to cut my bust length hair to my chin, got bangs, and a tattoo. It comforted me in a way I can’t describe.

It took a long time to build up the courage to open myself up to someone after that. The first guy I saw was super fit and always had been. He knew about my journey but just couldn’t relate and that’s okay, but the first time he saw me naked he said, “When is the next session with your personal trainer?” and my heart sank. Really dude? Needless to say that didn’t last long and I didn’t date for a while. The next guy shared a similar story to me and also lost a lot of weight. It was so relieving to meet someone that I didn’t have to explain anything to, because he had been through it too. But over time it became clear that we were very different and that gas lighting had been happening for a while.

When things ended at the beginning of the year it was obvious that the things I was “overreacting” about were true. I felt betrayed, miserable, and enraged. I soon realized that those feelings were unsustainable and that I should transform that negative energy into something better. I was interested in boxing for a while and decided to take a class with a friend. She bailed out at the last minute and I almost did too, but then I realized that it would be good to do something for myself and by myself. The feeling after that first class was so intoxicatingly empowering that I’ve been hooked ever since. Nothing has ever made me feel more strong and confident in my entire life. I made a promise to myself from that day that I would put myself and my happiness first before anyone else. Live a bit more, take more chances, and embrace change. I dyed my hair, got new glasses, met a new dude, and finally feel like everything has fallen into place. Going to the gym regularly has been great for my stress, anxiety, and confidence. It’s kind of funny how things came full circle from dreading gym class to missing the gym when I’m sick or reschedule a workout. Everyone’s journey with health is different and sometimes it just takes a while to figure out what your body needs.

Losing a substantial amount of weight is often glamorized to the point where all we really talk about are the physical changes, when it is really a long, hard, and emotionally draining process. I still worry about moving out of the way for people and exaggerate the amount of space to give them. I have stretch marks and extra skin, especially around my belly. The most frustrating part is that I’m strong now and have hard abs underneath, but no matter now many crunches I do that extra skin has nowhere to go. I’ve considered surgery and felt guilty/vain about it for the longest time. When I talked to my boyfriend about it recently, he told me that I should do whatever makes me happy. What a great dude, eh?

Looking back to the awkward chubby girl with Cheeto stained fingers, I still wouldn’t change a thing because I wouldn’t be the same person. Sometimes you just need to go through some shit in order to become the person you were meant to be.”

Hating Yourself is Tiresome | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

 

Alicia, the amazing woman behind Buxom Boudoir, and I recently got together to do something that we do for other people all the time but don't really do for ourselves...get neekid(ish) and have our own self-love experience! We each took turns posing and photographing out in nature one afternoon and I must say it was SO MUCH FUN! I can't wait to do it again! 

I asked Alicia to share a little bit about her experience with her body and how it's changed over the years so you can get a glimpse into the amazing person she is. It's easy for me to sit here and type about how important it is to love yourself along your journey but it's so much more powerful to hear other women talk about their struggles and how they are working to overcome them.

So without further ado here is what she had to say-

"My relationship with my body was strained for a very long time. When I hit puberty, I started gaining weight in my midsection, and a big belly and thighs just became a part of who I was. Even if I lost weight, the belly remained. I also have acne, body hair, cellulite, stretchmarks, and other “imperfections” that I hated for a long time. I was not kind to myself for many years, and all it took was a glance at my nude body in the mirror to start crying. I hated having my photos taken, I never believed people when they complimented me, and I never changed in front of other people because I was so insecure.

Then about two years ago, I started to actively change my mentality. I was exhausted from self-loathing. Hating yourself is tiresome, and I was over it. Around this time, I decided to start shooting boudoir under the impression that I would be helping other women feel better about themselves. What I didn’t realize is that it would have a positive effect on my self-image, as well. I started learning about body positivity, reading articles, wearing clothes that forced me outside my comfort and spending more time naked in my home. (It might sound silly, but sleeping nude and just being in solely my skin helped me have a better appreciation for my body.)

I’ve still got a long ways to go in regards to loving myself, but I’ve already changed a lot for the better. When people compliment me, I say “thank you.” I do not chastise them. I wear what I feel comfortable in, so if that’s short shorts and tops that reveal my shoulders when it’s ungodly hot out, so be it. I do not put any effort into hating my acne, stretchmarks or cellulite. I don’t love them, but I will not exhaust myself by hating them. I accept them. If I’m having a bad day and feeling garbage about my body, I give myself the day to feel that way. Then the next day, I practice a lot of self-love and remind myself that I am worthy of love and happiness no matter what I look like. I don’t weigh myself anymore. I take care of my body and mind as best I can on a daily basis rather than treating it like a project I’ll get to when I have the time.

If you had told me two years ago that I would wander in the woods half naked, I would have called you crazy. But I did it. I laid in a river wearing just a white robe, and it was one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done. This body and I have come a long way, and we have a long way to go, but for once, I’m not afraid of the journey. I’m excited for it."

Here is what I captured that day of Alicia! 

And if you want to see MY session you can check out Alicia's blog HERE! 

Embrace Your Weird | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

From the very beginning when I first picked up a camera Rachel was down to pose for me, no matter what the concept. I would throw her in pouf dresses and mohawks and even once, with the help of my entire family, I suspended her in a cobweb of ropes from a few trees. She's always trusted my vision and never hesitated to help make the pictures in my head a reality. 

I fondly call Rachel my beautiful alien, weird and unique and true to herself. But it wasn't always that way. I remember a completely different girl in high school. I remember someone timid, shy and trying to blend into the background. 

Luckily, being out of school can help change things and Rachel found her voice! But you don't need me to talk about it, here she is in her own words-

"When I was growing up, I was the awkward lanky kid, never to be caught dead in dresses and shorts. I was too skinny, too pale, too quiet. I only started wearing makeup when I was 17, because my twin sister begged me to try mascara. I struggled a lot with my body confidence because people told me I was too thin, or I should tan because I look like a ghost. After a few years of growing up, I feel like I'm the ghost with the most. I started changing my look with my vivid colors, and my own artistic expression. I found confidence in myself by looking at the differences not as weaknesses- but something that makes me stand out in crowds, and that makes me feel unique and beautiful." 

I'm going to try to take Rachel's words to heart, to look at my differences as strengths instead of weaknesses. It's kind of interesting to me because I've always been the different one and embraced that to the max but when it comes to my body I still find that I want to be the same as the Instagram stars with millions of likes. I want the big, toned booty and the tiny waist and the perky boobs and the clear, unblemished face. But I'm not that, I don't have that, I can work really hard and get close to it...but is it worth it? I don't know. I really like chips. 

The more bodies I photograph the more I really, truly realize how incredibly STUPID we all are with our insecurities about our differences. Every person that gets in front of my camera has hang ups about themselves and their outer appearance. And it's so mind-blowing to me to be on the outside looking in at you and only seeing your beauty and your strengths and your uniqueness. All I see is perfection and I wonder why you can't see it too. But then I go back into my little bubble and beat myself up about how I look and feel like I'm a fraud for telling everyone to love themselves when I am honestly not fully there yet. It's a mind-fuck I tell ya. 

I guess the moral of this story is embrace your weird. 

Here's my beautiful alien in all of her glory wearing Sweet Tooth Lingerie styled with a vintage beaded thingy I had lying around. This was photographed in my newly decorated Wisconsin 'studio' and the amazing hair and makeup is of course Elle HMUA.

A Part of Me | Omaha Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I think artists are always just trying to create things that will give their lives worth. Things that will be there long after they are gone. Things that live forever, or at least for as long as anyone cares to look at them. 

I create for all of those reasons.

I create because if I don't I literally feel like life is pointless. 

I also create because I have so many fucking feelings inside of me that need to get out. 

So in a way it's my therapy. 

If you know an artist and you think their work is awesome PLEASE TELL THEM. Like their photos, comment on their work, buy their things, tell your friends.

Being an artist can be so terrible sometimes. You put your soul into something, put it out there and...crickets. Suddenly a flood of feelings hits you like a wall. Does everyone hate it? Does it suck? I suck. I'm horrible. I should quit. No one cares. If no one sees my work or likes my work does it even exist? Do I even exist? What is the point of living? 

I can't be the only artist that goes through this.

I know rationally that my worth isn't determined by likes and comments. I KNOW this. I know that the social media algorithm is not in my favor and a whole slew of other things can effect how many people even see my images. But when you are an artist that has reclusive tendencies and putting your work 'out there' on the web is the equivalent of going to a party and no one says "hi" it fucking sucks because that's what happens at the real life party too. So it can seem like you're failing at everything. And that is a dangerous place to be in for sensitive souls. 

BUT. Sometimes we create something that is so in alignment with our feelings and emotions and psyches that it doesn't fucking matter what anyone else thinks. You want to share it with the world and you do not care if people 'like' it because YOU do and you just want everyone to see a part of you.

And that is this session here. 

I've been going through a lot of stuff lately. I'm not going to hide it or pretend I'm okay and that everything is hunky-dorey. There are way too many people out there acting like everything is fine when there is a fire going on inside of them and I really don't want to add to that list and help fan the flames of the stigma around mental health. So anyways... I had this session coming up and it was supposed to be nice and light boudoir-y but I just could not do that. I was feeling too dark. Some stuff had just happened that really (I hate to say this word but it's so true in this sense) triggered a lot of things I've stuffed way deep down for far too long, things that I thought I was over but clearly am not. 

So I talked to my model Lola a bit about it. And from the minute I met her I just knew she got it. She truly understood what I was feeling. 

And then we made art. 

Thank you for helping me express some of the pain I've been feeling. Thank you for being an emoter and an artist and a muse. Thank you for giving me something that I'm proud to have live forever long after I'm gone. 

All of the leather pieces are made by AudioHelkuik. I was so impressed with the quality and the amazing human who makes these pieces that I ordered one (the first of many!) for myself. 

Unpredictable Magic | Indianapolis Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Photo shoots in nature are my absolute favorite...but I've said that many times before.

I keep trying to think of why exactly I love them so much (besides the fact that I freaking LOVE nature) and I finally know why- 

Everything is up to chance. The scenery changes not only by the day- things blooming and fading- but also by the minute-one moment full sun glare and the next dappled shadows. 

I have to be in artist mode when I'm working outside- looking, searching, seeking for inspiration and then meshing that with the person in front of me to produce images that we can both be proud of. And it's such a thrill! Things never go as planned, and that's why it's so moving when we capture what we do. 

I hiked around the location of this photo shoot multiple times leading up to the day with my pup and had very specific ideas of what I wanted to do where. I should have known this would be pointless but nevertheless I wanted to be prepared. There was a gorgeous carpet of flowers I wanted to work with and the curvature of the nearby lake was going to make for some stunning fine art style imagery. I was very excited.

Well...nothing with nature is ever predictable! The flowers had all disappeared with the recent rain and the lake curve area was in full sun. After walking around for honestly 1.5 miles and me refusing to get mediocre images we stumbled upon a bunch of great locations! A gorgeous forest that let just the right amount of light in, a hidden fishing spot straight out of Huckleberry Finn, a grassy lane behind a porta potty of all things, and finally we went to a spot that I had hoped we could have time to get to- a gorgeous algae-covered pond complete with two geese! 

Everyone always wants to do the nature shoots but the truth is that no one thinks about the logistics.

If you want to get 'the shots' you have to be willing to brave the mosquitoes and the creepy crawlies, roll around in the mud, and lay still when you feel a spider making it's way up your arm (don't worry it's almost always a blade of grass!) Sometimes the shoots are freezing cold in the water and sometimes they are sweltering hot in the sun but you won't ever be forced to do anything you don't agree to. 

In the end, we create magic together and the images are even more cherished because of all of the things that had to fall into place to get them. 

Here is the unpredictable magic that Kiann and I created that day!

 

To book your own nature shoot- CLICK THIS! 

I Needed You Ten Years Ago | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

If you actually read my blog regularly and not just hang around for the pretty pictures you will have gotten the hint that I have had a difficult time 'accepting' my body over the years. It's still an uphill battle, but at least it's no longer a full-blown apocalypse in the temple that houses my soul. And my work as a boudoir photographer has really helped me heal myself, and in turn heal others. 

One of the things in my past that really triggered me, or kept me in the downward spiral, was all of the magazines and fashion blogs I used to look at. All I saw in them were thin women. Thin, HAPPY women. And I wanted that. I NEEDED that. 

But. 

Being thin doesn't buy happiness. Loving yourself does. 

It's so easy to just fucking SAY that. Not so easy to believe it when you're staring at yourself in the mirror and wondering why you don't look like the perfectly toned, incredibly talented actresses you work next to every day. (UMMMM maybe Paige because you regularly eat Taco Bell, hate working out, and don't get paid to maintain a certain weight.) I'd like to tell you I'm all better, I'm above that but, newsflash, I'm still working through some shit. 

I'm not saying that if there was more diversity in social media at the time that I was using it as fuel to light my eating disordered funeral pyre I wouldn't have gotten sick BUT seeing people with curves and tits and asses and bellies and jiggly bits and all sorts of different bodies might have acted like a cold bucket of water to the utter hatred I felt about myself. Maybe if I saw people like me back then looking fabulous and happy instead of just used as the before picture to a weight loss program I wouldn't have been so UTTERLY TERRIFIED of becoming MYSELF. 

But the only way forward is forward and the future is looking pretty awesome! There have been a ton of body positive people coming out of the woodwork the last few years. People who I look forward to watching re-shape society's idea of beauty, people who are making a difference for the youth of tomorrow.

One of these people is Jalyn. She is a powerhouse of curves and beauty and brains combined with a humbleness that just instantly draws you in. I needed her ten years ago, but at least I have her today! 

I think we all have our body battle stories. And I believe that by sharing them with one another we can really start to relate to one another as women instead of competing. I asked Jalyn to answer a few questions for me so you can get a feel for the woman that she is instead of only seeing the gorgeous images. And I think it's going to become a regular thing because even I'm getting tired of talking about myself all the damn time!

So without further ado here is Jalyn's interview!

 

Q: How has your relationship with your body changed over the years?

Growing up I was always very insecure of my body. I didn’t like the way I looked or felt in leotards in ballet, I hated to way my oxford button down made me look like a box during grade school. I was always self conscious about my stomach, back, thighs, and arms. I wore nothing but sweatpants & hoodies to the beach for countless summers. I never wanted to be caught showing any type of skin. I lived in baggy tees with bulky jeans. As I grew older, closer to my freshman year of college, I started modeling (thank you Hunter McGrady for being a role model through out that process) I had to teach myself that it was okay to have self love and to be confident in the shape of my body. I became really involved in fitness and using running as an outlet for the trials of high school. I lost about 70/80 in that time and I really started to accept that my body was always going to have curves because that is how my body was sculpted. There’s nothing wrong with cellulite, rolls, bumps, dimples, or any type of beautiful characteristics. 

 

Q: When do you feel the most beautiful? 

I feel my most beautiful in 2 completely opposite ways. The first is, as soon as I wake up in the morning, fresh faced, hair slightly disheveled with nothing but an oversized T-shirt on. Skin glowing from being well rested and a beaming sun, shining outside. The second is, when I’m full glam shooting for a brand or company. Wearing a jumper with heels like in these images or even a sundress. Beachy, blonde waves, glimmering highlighters, peachy pout, with stilettos, strutting my curves on set.  

 

Q: Who do you think has had the largest influence on the person you are today and why?

If I could have a career like anyone it would be Ashley Graham or Ashley Alexiss. Ashley Alexiss has been one of my most influential role models since I started my modeling journey back in 2015. She built her own career without an agent or someone managing her and continues to handle all of her own management. It’s inspiring that a single person can accumulate millions of followers, build her own net worth through social media and modeling, then be completely independent in finding jobs and opportunities. I am inspired by people who create their own lane, their own opportunities. They see what everyone else is doing and do something different. She built an entire swimwear line, has a modeling career, and a Masters in business. That is what I strive for. She’s not only a beautiful model, but she’s a boss babe, a business woman, an entrepreneur, and a trail blazer. 

 

What is your favorite body part on yourself?

My favorite body part is either my hips or my hair. I have really wide hips but I love having a thigh brow and how my waist is smaller than my hips giving my body an hourglass figure. My hair is also my favorite because of how long and wavy it is. 

 

Q: What is it like shooting with me (Paige)? 

I had an absolute blast on set! It always makes shooting so much more memorable and fun when you can vibe with the photographer. You have a vision and it’s my job to execute it. It was such an honor to work with you and I can’t wait to do more shoots in the future. Your vibrant and joyful personality made shooting a breeze and I loved how well we work together!

 

Q: Why should other women consider doing a boudoir shoot of their own?

There is nothing more sexy or empowering than feeling like a boss babe in lingerie. You build up a confidence by working your body and realizing that all of your curves are so sexy when you really start stripping away the layers of insecurities and self doubt. 

 

Yup, Jalyn is a badass. Here are her images! 

If you want to be the change you wish to see in the world and book your own shoot- CLICK THIS!

Model Misconceptions | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

 

There are a lot of misconceptions about models. The way they look, their IQ level, and the ease of their job are constantly being dragged through the mud by people who simply don't know any better. Yes, models are beautiful (that's #1 priority of their job!) but most are extremely smart, a lot of them using the money they make to put themselves through school, and their job is anything but easy. You'd know if you spent just one hour posing like they do! 

I recently shot with Danielle Maddox, a professional model and actress who travels between Nashville, Chicago, Los Angeles and anywhere the job takes her! It was really refreshing not having to direct every move for once and just pretty much let her do her thing. And she is AWESOME. There's this thing she can do where she laughs on cue and it legit looks like she's having the time of her dang life! I mean, I know I'm funny but I'm not THAT funny. You'll see what I'm talking about when you get to the images.

I asked her to share a bit about the inside world of modeling for all of us and here is what she had to say-

"Not all models are created equal, just as much as in any industry, modeling is a multifaceted world full of all shapes, colors, sizes, and aged models. Though within the media we only see the glamorized runway super models that are human alien gazelles with perfect skin, features, and bodies, they are only a fraction of the job market. All types of people, including myself, are making a living by posing in ads, commercials, catalogs, e-commerce, look books, some of which are classified as "real people" or not Actor or Model types. Normal photogenic relatable  models. Some even make livings just being a "Parts Model" which includes hand modeling. I do it- and it is very much a Zoolander joke 24/7. Some of us lucky ones cross over from Commercial modeling to Fashion and dabble in all aspects of the industry. The biggest misconception is that being a model is easy and glamorous. Sure, it is a heck of a day job, and I love what I do. But I don't get sick days, paid time off, health insurance, weekends, don't have a salary, or always know when my next paycheck will come as it can take 30-90 days to get paid (almost always 90 days.) I have to 24/7 take extra care of my hair, skin and nails, and foot the bill on all of that upkeep. And most importantly I have to exercise and eat a healthy balanced diet, all while working on sets Monday-Sunday sometimes 10+ hours. It's a tough life, but it's also wonderful!" 

Yeah, now you don't think it's so glamorous do ya?

 

She also was kind enough to share with us how she preps for a shoot!

When prepping for a photo shoot there are a few important things I like to do!

First and foremost-

1. Don't stress! Stressing makes you break out, and boy do I break out!

2. Hydrate, hydrate. (You should be doing this daily anyways.) If your skin is hydrated it will glow and look fresh and smooth on camera!

3. Lower your salt and alcohol intake 1-2 nights before a shoot. Both will make you bloat and retain water! A little wine the night before is fine! Just not the entire bottle!!!

4. Get plenty of rest- posing can be exhausting and make you tweak or 'twerk' some weird muscles that you didn't know existed. A well-rested body will be more relaxed and flexible! You may be sore after!

5. Practice posing at home!!! This is important especially if you are doing a shoot in little clothing! Grab that lingerie and pop that booty and practice! Knowing your body and being confident shines through on camera!

6. Don't forget to shave!! Or don't- embrace your natural state! 

7. Moisturize! If you moisturize day of- use an unscented body oil so you don't stain or transfer to the garments. Use a clear deodorant for the same reason. 

8. Remember that your body is absolutely beautiful and don't let it hold you back from loving every inch!

9. Most importantly during the shoot BREATHE and have a blast!!

 

And without further ado...here is how a lifestyle boudoir shoot with a model looks! 

 

To The Fullest Capacity | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I talk about loving yourself and learning to love yourself A LOT. I practically shout, "YOU ARE A STUNNER!" to every woman who complains about their body anywhere within my earshot. But the truth is that it's not that easy to see your beauty when you pick yourself apart all the time. You don't just fucking wake up one day and feel at peace with the flesh cage that permits you to live this life. It takes WORK. And I talk about that a lot too. It's a real battleground for most women, and a lot of them are fighting on the wrong side. Wasting all of that precious energy attacking themselves instead of reveling in the miracle of being alive! This life is such a precious gift, something so trivial as your stretch marks should not control your thoughts. My goal is to help you flip that switch from hate to love, to show you just how amazing you really are, and to empower you to help others do the same. 

I recently had an amazing session with Chelsea whose self-image is something to aspire to. I asked her to write a little sumthin' sumthin' for me and when I received the following response I swear to you I started crying in public. And you know why? Because SO MANY WOMEN HATE THEMSELVES THAT FINDING ONE THAT DOESN'T FEELS LIKE YOU'RE IN THE MIDST OF A MAGICAL BEING. I encourage anyone who is not okay in their body to print this passage out and put it on their mirror. Let's all try to get our Chelsea on! 

Here's what she had to say-

My body is my vessel. No, not in a religious, spiritual, or metaphysical way, but in the truest most factual sense possible. There have been times when it has failed me, made me feel like a complete outsider, and hate every inch of my being. But I've also rejoiced within it, worshiped it like an altar and anointed every curve I have. Only within the past few years have I learned to balance forgiveness and self love. At 21 years old I've helped myself see how strong and beautiful my body truly is, and see that every possibility is mine to grab. I've been in awe of my muscles, gotten lost in the stretch marks that map my thighs, and fallen in love with my self. This is the only vessel that I'll have in this lifetime, it's the only thing I have to get me through this journey and to survive. Why would I spend so much time beating it up and forcing it to be things that it's not? I'm going to nourish it with the love and affection it deserves. I'm going to celebrate every day I get to spend wrapped up in its perfection. I am going to love myself to the fullest capacity.

Holy shit right? 

And to top it off, her images are just going to blow you away!

Lingerie- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

Corsets- Corsettery

To book your own Self-Love Experience- CLICK HERE

Lingerie Lovers Unite! | Nashville Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I used to think that I was a pervert because I loved lingerie so much. I didn't really think that liking lingerie was sinful in itself but having a straight-up love affair with corsets and panties and balconette bras seemed somehow...wrong. No one else I knew gave a shit about 'underthings' past the point of going to the Victoria's Secret at the mall a few times a year to buy underwear on sale with the word PINK plastered on the back. Obviously something was wrong with ME.

So I sort of kept my obsession a secret. I'd scour the Goodwill's  and the thrifts stores for vintage garter belts and itty bitty bustiers that I, a 14 year old, really had no use in buying. I remember being ashamed at the check out counter, trying desperately to hide my newest score, a green velvet bra, in the middle of a pile of sweaters and jeans, all the while praying that the lady ringing me up didn't give me 'that look.' 

I eventually got older (as you do) and grew some lingerie balls. I also discovered the wonderful, anonymous world of online shopping! Ebay, and later Etsy, took a lot of my money (and still does). 

My tastes have changed as well. I now lust after and splurge on designer lingerie as well as independent brands because the quality, construction, and design are just so much more well-executed than your average JCPenny bra/panty set. And talk about unique! But I'm not a snob either. I still scour the thrift stores for vintage girdle panties, bullet bras and 80's Victoria's Secret finds. 

One of my main labors of love is the Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet. It's where my passion has turned into something beneficial. I have SO MANY options for you to choose from to wear at your boudoir photo shoot with me in a wide variety of sizes and styles. I get stuff so frequently that I have a hard time posting it all up on there for people to look at! I have things that people could only dream of wearing, such as a Catherine D'lish gown (I have FOUR so far) or an Agent Provocateur corset. Or discontinued Made by Niki. These items are out of most people's price range, considered an unnecessary extravagance (you can love lingerie but think it's crazy to spend $700 on a robe and still want to wear one for a shoot!), but when you come to me you can truly experience luxury lingerie for a day. 

I recently discovered a private Facebook group dedicated to Lingerie Addicts and I feel like for the first time I found MY PEOPLE. 

And one of those people is Melissa (@theheiresslingerie on Instagram)!

Melissa currently lives in Nashville and we have similar lingerie tastes. We both love Bordelle and Agent Provocateur and the store Baby Likes to Pony so I thought it only natural that we team up for a photo shoot. She kept insisting that she isn't a model. I kept insisting that didn't matter. She brought her favorite pieces, I added a green Corsettery corset and my black lace D'lish gown and we made magic! We didn't have enough time to capture the Bordelle set she owns which haunts me to this day (both not having the images or owning that set!) but oh well, there's always next time and vigilant searches on Ebay!

Here's what she had to say about the experience-

"The shoot was even more fun than I thought it would be. I've obviously never modeled nor am I a model but having someone say things like, "Yes fierce goddess!" to me was just awesome. I'm a little different in that I wear lingerie that's slightly...aspirational. I have very specific tastes and they're usually a bit expensive so every piece I own is like a little piece of jewelry to me. Meeting Paige through lingerie and then getting to live my 'fancy rich lady model' fantasy, if only for a few hours, was so joyful."

It was a joy for me as well, smooshing three things I love together- lingerie, nature, and making a woman feel amazing!

 

To book your own shoot- CLICK THIS

Summer Goddess | Madison Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

It's hard to talk about summer Goddess sessions when the Midwest is about to be dumped on by 17 inches of snow. In April.

Luckily, I'm currently in Nashville where it's a nice 65 degrees!

I took these images last summer and am just now getting around to posting them because life is busy and I suffer horribly from dotoomuchitis. But here they finally are! 

Elan looks like a damn Goddess brought to life...because she is. And we all are. We just have to realize it and OWN it. 

It helps when you're wearing lingerie that looks like a million bills, your hair and makeup is on point, your poses are flawless and the nature is cooperating with you to bring everything together! We even caught some cool sun flares!

This whole set took us about ten minutes to shoot, you can get some really great stuff with me in a short amount of time if you just trust me, I promise!

I still have a few slots open for short outdoor shoots this summer in Hixton, WI. so contact me soon if you'd like to know more! 

Now have fun looking at these images and pretending that it's this warm where you are. You can almost feel the sun on your face when you look at the last image, right?! 

Wardrobe- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

Hair and Makeup Artist- Elle Allen Hair & Makeup

To book your own Goddess Session- CLICK HERE

Blue-Haired Girl | Memphis Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Sometimes I don't have much to say in my blog posts. The writing gods aren't blessing me right now and I don't feel like regurgitating the same 'love yourself' mantra to you again because honestly I'm struggling right now personally. 

Everything is sort of out of balance in a big way for me.

I'm working on getting things back on track, sorting through my priorities, and changing some things.

It gets old, this re-aligning. I feel like I have to do it a lot.

But maybe it's because I want the best life for myself, who knows. 

Either way I'm still taking on boudoir clients! And I'm pushing myself to try new things, to create in new locations, to just let the human in front of me BE more of who they are and then pose around that. 

This is Luna. A beautiful, currently blue-haired woman living in Memphis. We didn't really get to connect as much as I usually like but I can tell that she has stories within her. This was her first boudoir shoot and she really rocked it out!

Heartbreak Hotel | Memphis Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

Getting over a break up is hard.

I don't have any recent experience, I've been with the same man for 12 years, but I still remember my last break up. It helped to shape me into who I am today. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, right?

When it happened I was a complete and total mess for a long time, and it took years for me to finally heal all of the little pieces and fucking MOVE ON for good. I think it was because he was my first real love, my first real relationship, and the first time that I had sex. Oh, and I was like 16 or 17 so everything was very dramatic and I was going through a lot of other issues at the same time. It's not so much the break up that did the damage but the feelings of worthlessness that I held onto that I had to heal. 

I thought he was THE ONE. I thought that we were MEANT TO BE. I thought a lot of things back then. 

But time heals all wounds if you work on them and all healing takes time. 

I'm not really going to go into how shitty breaking up with someone feels, because most of us have been through it already and we know that it's a hell of a lot more than tubs of ice cream and Facebook stalking. 

I'm going to talk about the self-knowledge that comes from breaking up with someone. 

Because it can be a blessing in disguise in the long run, at least it was for me. 

When you're thrown into the deep end of the single pool a lot changes. You're suddenly on your own again. You only have yourself to think about, which for a lot of people turns into feelings of self-loathing and unworthiness. The woe-is-me mentality just sucking the life out of you day after day. 

But what if you treated each day as a single person as a day where you got to do exactly whatever set your soul on fire? What if you lived each day racing towards your bliss? And what if you could do this no matter what relationship status you are or aren't in? 

Newsflash-bang-POW! You can! It's really simple. Living your best life authentically IS the key to happiness, and it might even take you on the path to finding THE ONE who you are MEANT TO BE with. 

Lovers come and go, relationships come and go (so don't take them for granted) but you're stuck with yourself so you might as well cultivate a relationship with YOU. Treat yourself how you'd want your lover to treat you (Look up The Womanizer. TRUST ME). Take care of yourself how you want to be taken care of. In other words DO THINGS FOR YOUR OWN DAMN SELF. You're all you've got, for better or worse, so you might as well love yourself. And if someone comes booping along your path and ignites something within you then you already have a strong sense of self that can let them into your life but not let them take over your life.  

Revenge sessions, like this one, are a great way to jump-start the healing. It's a visual reminder of the fact that you are sexy, powerful, amazing... and you don't need someone else's validation in order to feel all of those things. 

I'm not gonna lie, it's also kind of fun to show them what they are missing. 

Wardrobe- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

To book your own revenge session- CLICK THIS!

All That Glitters Is Not Gold | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

It's hard being a woman.

Most of us are stuck in a state of MORE- a bigger, better, faster, stronger mentality that keeps us in a loop of perpetual unhappiness. 

The constant need to PROVE and BE THE BEST (what even is that?) gets to all of us at one point or another, no matter how zen you claim to be.

And the worst part? All of us are walking around unhappy wondering what the hell is wrong when the answer isn't that you need a new dress or a new body or a new house but that you need a new perspective. You need to look at your SELF, because you already have everything you need within you. You need to get off the damn hamster wheel and get into the self-reflection. 

If you love Netflix maybe watch documentaries that encourage you to think. If you feel like working out how about doing something you love instead of logging time at a gym you hate. And how about instead of scrolling on the phone for half an hour before bed you read a damn book. I know you've got a stack of them just waiting to be cracked open. These are small things that seem like they don't have anything to do with anything but in all reality are ways that you can disconnect from the 'machine' and reconnect with yourself and your goals and your BLISS.

I work with women's bodies a lot. Which really means that I deal with women and their issues about their bodies a lot. It's probably the most profound thing about us as women- that we all walk around hating our bodies. And no wonder, when everything we watch and hear is telling us that we need to be better, thinner, more like this and less like that. And then-CURVEBALL- all the rules change and what was the ideal body type 5 years ago is now not okay anymore. How the fuck do you ever win???? YOU STOP PLAYING THE GAME.

We tend to pick ourselves apart. We don't see ourselves as people, we see ourselves as thighs that are too big and boobs that are too saggy and stomachs that are too pudgy and teeth that are crooked. Not big enough, not small enough, not straight enough, not tall enough or light enough or smooth enough. Well enough of that. YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE SO GODDAMN ENOUGH IT'S AMAZING HOW ENOUGH YOU ARE. 

The sessions I do with people are so much more than just glitter and gold. Yes they are glitz and glam but they are also raw and real. They change people. They hold up a mirror to YOU and all of your power. They help to teach you that the only person you need to look to for acceptance is yourself. And that all you need to do in order to accept yourself is this- say YES.

Own it. Own who you are, perceived flaws and all. Revel in the miracle of YOU. You are sensual and beautiful and brave and deserving. You are also strong and capable and can do anything you set your mind to. You can also be none of those things because YOU MAKE THE RULES. 

Everyone wants to blend in but by being yourself you stand out. You make a difference by owning your truth and accepting your unique you-ness. People look up to the people who are brave enough to be themselves. There is so much power in self-acceptance. It effects every aspect of your life. 

All that glitters is not gold. All that beauty you see in the world is surface, not substance. It's great to look at but at the end of the day it doesn't really matter. What matters is INSIDE. Once you accept yourself for who you are and just love yourself so much time is freed up for other stuff. Imagine how much mental space you'd have if you could get rid of all of that negative self-talk? I would get whole entire years of my life back! 

These photo shoots help you see you for who you are, they help you get your power back, and they help you move on. You hang your portraits up and look at them every day and remind yourself that you are a badass. And then you go out into the world and kick some ass. 

Wardrobe- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

Hair and Makeup Artist- Elle Allen Hair & Makeup

To Book your own session- CLICK THIS!

Vulnerability Part 2 | Grand Rapids Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I talked A LOT about vulnerability in Part 1 of this set so I'm not going to harp on it too much more except to say that it's hella important, in life and during your photo shoot. So give it a read if you haven't already.

I'm here to connect with you, soul to soul, and capture a piece of it in images. I can't do that as effectively if you don't let your guard down.

Droping all of that over-thinking and just feeling the moment and connecting with me is the key to great images during your session. That's it! All you have to do is trust me. And relax. Because I've got ya!  

The proof is in the pictures!

Self-Portrait= Self Love | Florida Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I am so nervous to post these that I might throw up. 

I'm feeling allllll sorts of emotions but the main one is FEAR. I'm scared to show people my body because it's a body now. And as much as I might preach self-love and all that mumbo-jumbo I am kind of ashamed of where I'm at in this current body. It's physically uncomfortable right now and for someone who can't even look at themselves in the mirror most days it's fucking terrifying to show it to the whole world. But that's exactly why I need to do this. I need to do this for myself. And I need to do this for you

But let me rewind a second.

Like many women, I've had (air quotes) body issues. But unlike a lot of women I've had at different points in my life what's considered as issues issues. The heavy hitters. Anorexia, bulimia, bingeing/purging, orthorexia,  exercise addiction, and body dysmorphia. Those are just the body-related ones! I'm a little bit messed up I guess. And I was really damn good at hiding all of those. It was kind of like a game for me, except the risk was losing my life if I won. The blind hatred I felt towards my body truly was all-consuming. 

But. 

I'm happy to say that I'm more or less recovered from most of those issues but the mental mindset doesn't ever leave you. And because of that I take certain precautions. I try not to go to the gym anymore by myself. I don't watch food documentaries. I don't count calories or have a scale or look in the mirror (for better or worse) or let myself go too long without eating. I spend a lot of time just being naked in an attepmt to normalize my body with my self. I even got rid of that folder on my computer with pictures of skinny people that took me years to compile. That one was hard to do.

But now that I'm 'better' I'm just another chubby girl who's ignored by society. 

I'm just stuck with myself. 

And so. 

If I have to be stuck with myself I'm going to try to live with it. Maybe even...(oh my god here's a radical notion) love it. 

I've come to realize that I'm a god-damn renaissance painting in a world that currently worships a different body type. Or at least that's what I tell myself these days. I'm fleshy and full and got lumps and bumps and lovely lady humps! 

But just because I was born in the wrong time period for my body type doesn't make my body wrong. It just makes it unique. And uniqueness, at the very least, is NOT boring! 

I'm at my highest weight, I think. And I've reached a truce with myself.

I used to do a lot of bad things to my body...and none of them fixed anything. The underlying issues, which had nothing to do with food or weight, were still there. So now I'm going to try to do some good things. I'm going to work out in moderation with love and respect for my body in ways that bring me joy. I'm going to fill it with real, whole foods instead of sugar and simple carbs (also sugar). I'm going to stop comparing myself to people because, as Theodore Roosevelt wisely said, comparison is the thief of joy. 

I'm not going to hide anymore, nor am I going to wait to do things until I'm perfect. Because we all know that doesn't exist. Perfect is an ever-moving target, an oasis of death in the desert race of life. And frankly, I've got more important shit to do. I'm going to buy the expensive lingerie (for myself, not just my clients anymore!), I'm going to take the self-portraits, I'm going to wear the bikini, and I'm going to have sex with the lights on (well I kind of already do this but it's not what I would describe as my favorite kind of sex ifyaknowwhatImean.)

And the best part is that I'm not alone! There is a whole movement of body-positive people coming out of the woodwork and boudoir is just one of the many ways that they are using to not only jump-start that journey and embrace their own uniqueness but also change the way the world views sexy. Sexy is raw, sexy is real, sexy is...whatever the fuck you want it to be. It's tanned and toned AND big and bodacious. 

Because I'm a boudoir photographer (if you didn't know that already where the heck have you been!?) I hopped on the bandwagon to do it for myself. I kind of chose the dumbest time to to it too. High noon in Florida with the sun shining brightly (the worst time for photo-taking) and in a semi-public walking path. I could feel myself burning as the minutes ticked by and this weird guy kept circling back on his bicycle. Luckily I had Alex along to keep a look out.

When I got home and looked at the photos I have to be honest, at first I didn't like what I saw. I started to think that maybe I shouldn't have done it, it was a waste of time (soooo much time. Self portraits are HARD), and that I was most definitely NOT going to post them. NopenopeNOOOPPPEEE. People would see that I'm fat under all of those clothes! People would think that I let myself go or that I'm lazy or that I'm ugly.

But. Then. 

I had a glass of wine and looked at myself with kindness. I looked at myself objectively as if I was looking at one of my clients. And then I fell in love. When I removed all of the mental bull-shit that runs through my head all of the time and just looked at that woman staring back at me...I cried. I cried for all that I have become, for all that I have lost in the battle to whittle myself down, and for all that my life is yet to be. And I'm crying now! 

So.

As it stands today I'm far from peace....but at least I'm not at war anymore. 

And that's good enough for me.

P.S. Other that color-changes and pimple removal I did NOT photoshop my body. I purposely used photos that flaunted my stomach in 'unflattering' poses because it's my biggest personal 'flaw' in my eyes. I think showing you that is the ultimate form of bravery, and it's set me free. 

Paintings-

Jan Gossaert's Venus and Palma Giovane's Venus and Cupid at Vulcan's Forge

(Hmmmm....Venus is a goddess. She looks like me. Therefore I am a goddess?!)

 

If you're ready to love yourself NOW just as you are and book a shoot with me- CLICK THIS! 

 

 

Kimono Flow | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I LOVE styling boudoir sessions. LOOOOOVVVVVEEEEE it! I think I could honestly just quit taking photos forever (sad day) and still be able to carve a beautiful life out for myself with styling photo shoots/movies/whatever floats your boat. Lingerie and vintage clothing bring me THAT MUCH JOY.

There's something so incredibly satisfying about pulling different elements together to create a narrative. You become what you're wearing. Everything makes sense and just clicks in. That's important with boudoir because sometimes we need help bringing out what we have deep within us and the styling of your session can really help do that.

I bought this vintage embroidered silk kimono recently at an antique store somewhere in the US and, even though it needed some work and had staining, I just #hadtohaveittakemymoneynow! Kimonos are quite plentiful out in the world. There are tons of different styles and fabrics but the QUALITY of most are sub-par. They are usually of the souvenir variety and I pass up almost all that I see. 

But this baby... I put it on and it just flowed. It had life. And it had me in one spin. 

SO. I knew I had to put someone in this and capture it on camera. 

I found this bra and panty set that goes perfectly with the robe and we were aiming for a really dreamy, beautiful session so Elle did a romantic braided up-do for the hair. 

Pair all of that with a serendipitous wind and Carley doing her thang and you've got magic! I feel like you can almost feel the silk of the kimono in these images.

If you want to do a session with me but have no idea how to style yourself please let me help! It would honestly be my pleasure. And I have a whole wardrobe of things to choose from! 

Wardrobe and styling- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

Hair & Makeup- Elle Allen Hair and Makeup

To book your own shoot- CLICK THIS!

Pin Me Up | Madison Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I have a great love for pin-up, old Hollywood glamour, and film noir styles, probably because I have been collecting vintage for literally over half of my life (It all started with a pair of snake skin kitten heels...).

Due to my reverence and respect for the past I am very wary about photographing the different genres (because those are 3 different genres, and even those three can be divided further into sub-categories) unless we hit all of the boxes-

Hair and makeup needs to be on point- check

Outfit needs to be on point- check

Posing needs to be on point- check

Location needs to be on point- half-check (we did the best we could with this shoot!) 

Once all of those details are squared away I'll agree to shoot the concept, because that's kind of what this style of photography is- a fully thought-out production. It's like a mini-movie!

I've seen a lot of bad work out there, and most of it comes down to lack of/poor planning. If you've got the outfit but you don't have the hair and makeup to match then the illusion is shattered and you're just a lady wearing some old style knickers. (There's nothing wrong with that, but I wouldn't label it pin-up.) It's the difference between the utter perfection of Mad Men and... not Mad Men. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for breaking the pin-up rules but you have to know the rules first in order to break them. And a lot of people are just clueless when it comes to authenticity. 

Even this shoot could have been either improved upon or changed if you're looking to be cynical. The hotel is modern (which is actually kind of cool and ended up being a neat twist) and therefore not authentic. The outfit is freaking amazing (thank you Bettie Page Lingerie for existing and making new versions of classics in fun colors!) but would have, if worn in the fifties, had stockings attached to the garter belt. (I brought those along but much preferred the bare leg because DUH look at those gams amiright?!) And tattoos weren't mainstream back then so Ginny's beautiful body art would have been sorely absent. 

Nevertheless this shoot turned out wonderfully and I'm very proud. It was even featured in Delicious Dolls Magazine (although they kind of spelled my name wrong) which was a nice surprise since it was my first time submitting to a magazine. Ahhh validation! 

So if you've got a hankering for the vintage glam let me help you make your pin-up, old Hollywood, or film noir dreams come true! It'll take planning but it's really fun for me to create little worlds, in fact it's kind of how I started out when I first picked up a camera. Costume, set design, makeup, posing, the whole shebang! 

Even if you don't care for that style you can at least appreciate the utter perfection that is Ginny Rosewater here! And Elle Allen killed it on hair and makeup! 

Wardrobe- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

Hair and Makeup Artist- Elle Allen Hair and Makeup

To book your own Pin Up shoot- Click THIS!

You Are Safe With Me | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I want to talk about how important it is to me that my clients feel safe when we are working together.

Boudoir, for the most part, is a deeply personal experience. You are baring your soul and your body and tapping into parts of yourself that you probably rarely let see the light. It's a little uncomfortable but it should be because you're growing. 

All of these things are wonderful and powerful and can sometimes be the catalyst for changing your entire life. Imagine if you actually started to believe that you are beautiful and sensual and important and can do anything that you set your mind to! It happens. Self-reverence opens many doors. 

BUT none of these things can happen if you don't feel at ease, if you don't feel secure enough to let your guard down, if you don't feel like you're in a safe space.

You will ALWAYS be in a safe space with me, physically AND mentally. 

If you decide to book an outdoor boudoir session, which people are starting to request with more frequency, your photo shoot will take place on my family's private property. (Unless, on the rare occasion, you have an amazing spot or idea of your own that won't get us arrested!) No strangers are going to be walking by as you frolic naked in the woods. It'll be just you, me, and the bugs. And while it's not the most glamorous place to get dolled up, my parents' house is ours to use to get ready in. (They won't be home!)

You probably don't think of the privacy factor when you're daydreaming about your own epic outdoor boudoir photo shoot experience but shooting PRIVATELY outside is something that most boudoir photographers don't have the luxury of offering. I feel very fortunate to be able to give this to my clients, especially since shooting outside with Mother Nature was how I started my photography journey.

You should feel safe with me emotionally as well. 

Girrrrrlll let me tell you....

Whatever mental hangups you have about yourself I've either experienced in the past or continue to experience. I've dealt with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, dissociation, self-loathing so bad I couldn't look in a mirror, and, only recently the journey to self-love and I'm here to tell you that you will not be judged by me.

I'm not going to be thinking about your stretch marks (we all have them, it means you've grown silly!), your cottage cheese butt (please tell me I'm not the only one with this!), or your two different sized breasts. I don't care about those things. I'm not going to be picking you apart like you're some sort of weird specimen or something that needs improving (you probably do this enough to yourself every day). 

What I will be doing is looking at you with kind eyes, coaxing you to really let your inner self out, and making sure that you point your damn toes. 

A body is just a shell to me- some are bigger or smaller, some are shorter or taller, some are lighter or darker, some are lumpy-er or more toned but NONE OF THE FEATURES OF YOUR BODY DETERMINE YOUR WORTH. I'm looking deeper, I'm looking for the soul. And you should too.

I'm starting to realize that this is why people come to me- they want to feel seen for more than what they look like on the outside.

I will pose you so effortlessly that you don't even realize you're posing most of the time. You'll be focusing on the way the wind caresses your cheek, the feeling of the dewy grass meeting your body as you lay down, the noise of the pine needles crunching underneath your feet, the mosquitoes eating you alive, the stick prodding you in the back...you get the picture! And yes, you will look good. I'll make sure you tighten the stomach muscles, pop that booty, lift the chin...and breathe.

I want you to know that you can feel safe with me, you can trust me, and that together we are going to hopefully open that door to realizing just how amazing you truly are.

But don't just take my word for it. Here's what someone recently had to say about their experience-

"I was unsure how I would feel getting photos, feeling unsure and vulnerable about how they would turn out. As soon as I arrived, I felt so comfortable. Starting with hair and makeup, I was feeling my best self after just that! Letting myself do this and allowing myself to be my most free and best self in front of the camera turned out to be one of the best and most liberating experiences I've had! Paige is so professional, and she makes you feel like you're the most beautiful person she's ever seen in front of the camera. I've never seen anyone with so much patience! Awkward ladies out there- this girl is for you! Would highly recommend a photo shoot with Paige!! Do it for your awesome self." -Samantha

  Yup. Awkward girls unite!

Anywho...

Here's an outdoor photo shoot that took place on my family's land this past summer. Looking at these, I am instantly transported back. I can smell the wildflowers, I can hear the big bumblebees, I can feel that warm early morning breeze.... take me back! 

We got a little creative and stuck wildflowers in one of the sheer bodysuits from the boudoir closet. We only had about 10 minutes to capture this look but what we got is stunning! Carley really blends right in with the beauty of nature!

Enjoy!

Wardrobe- Duende Boudoir Closet

Hair and Makeup- Elle Allen Hair & Makeup

To book your own outdoor shoot this summer- Click THIS!

Roccoco in the woods | Wisconsin Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

When I first picked up a camera 4 years ago it was to take all of the ideas that were hogging space in my head and bring them into the world. I grew up on the (small) stage and both my grandmother and mother were part-time seamstresses so my head has been filled with pouf dresses and ballerinas and faeries and glitter for as long as I can remember. As I grew older I also became positively addicted to vintage and antique clothing, a love affair that will last me until my dying breath. 

I carry all of these things inside me, all of these loves and knowledge of different time periods and fantastical elements just waiting with me until they can be released into the world. I'd like to think that I do a pretty good job of making my dreams a reality with Duende Imagery. 

But at some point I became a little bored. I wanted a bit of a challenge. And I wanted to show that there might be a different type of boudoir that you can do if you're seeking something a bit more unique. So I decided to smoosh the whimsical world that I play in at Duende Imagery together with Duende Boudoir. 

Et Voila!

That's what I've kind of been doing. Half the time I'm in the hotel room getting people to bare their souls for me and the other half I'm cavorting around outside making dreams come true with lingerie and wardrobe styling and the whole she-bang! Both are extremely fulfilling, and to me that plays a key role in how good the images are. 

This particular set is a more romanticized, loosely based take on Marie Antoinette. The corset style is different than she would have worn and the hair and makeup is more beautiful than authentic but I think that everything works well together as a modern interpretation. 

Just think about all the things we could do with a boudoir twist! Sultry mermaids and dark goddesses and glam princesses galore! If this is something you'd like to do just let me know and we can work together to make it happen! You could even do half of the session creative and the other half more of a boudoir version! 

Hair and Makeup Artist- Elle Allen Hair & Makeup

Wardrobe- Duende Boudoir Lingerie Closet

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Vulnerability is the Birthplace of Connection | Grand Rapids Boudoir | Duende Boudoir

I want to talk about vulnerability for a minute. Specifically how dang important it is. 

Vulnerability is the gateway to a more fulfilling life.

Trust me, I know. I've been working on different pathways to better know myself and vulnerability is one of the most effective ways to suck the dang marrow out of life. So, I've been experimenting with this whole 'allow yourself to be vulnerable and open to alllll the feelings and experiences and joy and pain' thing for the past few months and my life REALLY is changing! 

I think Brené Brown phrased it best when she said, "Vulnerability is the birthplace of connection and the path to the feeling of worthiness. If it doesn't feel vulnerable, the sharing is probably not constructive." 

In order to make meaningful connections you have to allow yourself to be seen. So I've started letting people see me in all my socially-awkward glory. I've stopped pretending to be happy when I'm not and I have stopped apologizing for things that don't need apologizing for. things like saying sorry for taking a little longer than usual to walk through a door that's being held open for you. (First of all don't hold a door open for me when I am so dang far away that I have to practically run to get there so you aren't standing there holding the door for me for all eternity because now I have to RUN and I HATE running. Rude.) 

What makes you vulnerable makes you beautiful. Perceived 'flaws' and all. Anyone who isn't a walking zombie or a huge douche canoe is going to be immediately drawn to you if you're an emoter (see my previous post) or you show vulnerability. Why? BECAUSE BEING WHO YOU REALLY, TRULY, UN-APOLOGETICLLY ARE IS FUCKING BRAVE. And everyone recognizes that vulnerability and courage at a cellular level.  

So what even is vulnerability? 

It's the willingness to say 'I love you' first when you have no idea if the other person feels that same way as you do. 

It's taking the leap and doing that thing (like moving to a different country or quitting that job that is sucking the life out of you so you can try to make a living off of a passion that you have) even though everyone around you is saying that it's too risky. 

It's getting on the stage and singing in public for the first time.

It's telling your partner about a sexual thing you want to try.

It's SO many things but basically it's just being brave. Having courage. Opening up. 

I see the lack of vulnerability in boudoir SO DAMN MUCH and it looks like this-

"I'd love to do a shoot but I'm to old/fat/thin/not pretty enough/not good enough/don't have enough time/money/support to do it but someday maybe I'll do it."

SOMEDAY.....MAYBE...

All of these things are excuses that people use to ring around the rosey the REAL issue which is this-

Lack of self worth. 

You see, it's easy to say, "I'm gonna go into that boudoir shoot and rock it out when I'm perfect and toned" but the truth is that rarely happens. You'll either be paralyzed by fear and shame because your looks aren't the real issue OR always be chasing the impossible perfection because to stop and look at yourself in the mirror and say 'I'M GOOD ENOUGH' would mean you'd have to be vulnerable enough to sit with yourself and confront who you are right now. And then accept yourself and alllll that you are....and all that you perceive yourself not to be. That takes true vulnerability.

I promise this isn't a post trying to guilt into into booking a session. You'll book when your self worth barometer goes up a bit, or when you've saved up enough, whichever comes first. 

This is a post about being vulnerable so I'm going to digress some more about MY FAVORITE DAMN THING ABOUT MY JOB! 

My favorite thing is when I get you in front of me and I look into your eyes. Not with my camera, but with my own eyes looking into yours. And you know what happens? YOU CRACK OPEN. You spew your vulnerability everywhere and I capture it for all time.

It's so much more than great butt pictures y'all. It's connection and soul gazing and vulnerability and emotion AND YES it is also good butt pictures.

This is what I love about my job. I get to give you yourself.

The you that maybe you've always known was there but from a very young age were told in tiny little ways wasn't good enough so, piece by piece, you shoved your YOU-ness into a box that you hardly ever (or maybe never?) look at. 

The you that you're starting to get to know a bit better and are learning to love who she is, 'flaws' and all.

The you that maybe needs someone like me to come along and push you off the vulnerability cliff so you can feel what it's like finally to be just un-apologetically yourself, even if it's just for a photo shoot. 

Shooting with me is an exercise in the art of vulnerability. Not just because at some point you'll most likely be naked but because your emotions will be out on display and you'll have to tap into feelings that maybe you don't always show people. But I got you boo, that's what I'm good at. And if you don't believe me then just look at these dang pictures. 

This is Autumn. She started out a stranger and became a great friend. We connected, she was vulnerable, and you can feel her vulnerability in the images.  

 

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